What is the Difference between Manufacturing and Fabrication?

What Is the Difference Between Manufacturing and Fabrication?

After a busy and productive week, you get an urgent call from a client. They have a rush job and need it completed right away. The manufacturing unit operates over the weekend, but you need to add an additional shift to meet the deadline. Now imagine, with all details finalized, the project moves forward at a rapid rate. Then something terrible happens.

A machine part breaks and work comes to a screeching halt. The job is seriously delayed, and the client is unhappy because their product’s specific demands could not be met by the manufacturing unit. And the manufacturer is left asking, “What happened, and why? And how can we do better next time?” A fabrication unit comes to the rescue and delivers customized production by carefully constructing the product. While a lot of people confuse the difference between manufacturing and fabrication; manufacturing and fabrication are two commercially used terms in the production of finished metal or construction of structures using a metal.

However, one of the most common questions that steel plate fabricators get is “What is the difference between manufacturing and fabrication?.”

If you too were searching to get a clear idea of how these two processes are distinct, you have landed at the right place.

Take a quick read to know the major differentiating aspects of manufacturing and fabrication.

  • Oxford defines ‘manufacture’ as “make (something) on a large-scale using machinery.” While, ‘fabricate’ word has been defined as “construct or manufacture (an industrial product), especially from preparing components.

Now let’s understand what makes the processes of both manufacturing and fabrication different from each other.

The manufacturing of, for example, structural steel, is the process of producing the final structure of the steel material by combining raw material as per the means of large-scale industrial operations. The entire process of manufacturing is only to produce structural steel.

What Is Fabrication?

Fabrication, on the other hand, is the process where you bring together different standardized manufactured structural steel parts. The parts are then welded, assembled, or ‘fabricated’ together. Thus, the entire process of fabrication is to create steel structures, machinery, and other such components made of structural steel.

So, in relative terms manufacturing can be referred to as the manufacturing of steel structures while fabrication could be a part of the manufacturing process of the entire steel structures.

The manufacturing goal is to create steel parts that could be easily assembled and then fabricated together. While the goal of fabrication process is to create robust and long-lasting structural steel components and structures.

Let’s take a look at another example to understand the difference between the processes. Let’s assume that a company is importing parts for a shipping vessel and assembling them to create a finished ship. Now, the process of producing complete ships/boats carried out by this company can be considered as the fabrication process. Here, the company does not manufacture ships from scratch. Therefore, the entire development of manufacturing is done at other factories where the parts for this ship are made using raw materials.

Fabrication is an industry term that refers to the manipulation of raw materials (such as steel) to make machines and structures. The services of fabricators are needed to build the parts of a working system and then throughout the process. Simply said, ‘fabrication’ is the manufacturing operation for making components, as opposed to assembly operations.

What are the benefits of ERP in the manufacturing industry and the fabrication industry?

Manufacturing ERP Selection Guide

Today’s business landscape is very different from that of only a decade ago. With the rise of new technologies and global competition, the way we manage manufacturing vs fabrication operations have changed dramatically. Explore how OptiProERP, a manufacturing ERP, is helping manufacturing and fabrication businesses better manage their operations. Schedule your personalized demo.